WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Worry and Anxiety”

Valley of Detours: Trusting God

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Have you ever read the wonderful book by Hannah Hurnard, Hinds Feet In High Places? If not, I highly recommend that you do. The main character, Much Afraid, decides to trust the Good Shepherd and travel to His kingdom, which are on the high places. He appoints two companions to assist her along the way, but they lead her up and down paths that often seem like detours.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

In reality, every twist and turn, valley and rough patch Much Afraid journeyed were necessary for her equipment. Each apparent detour trained her for the challenging ascent. As the book unfolds, Much Afraid learns that she must cooperate with God while in the valley of detours. When she lays down her self will and accepts the Shepherd’s path for her life, she finds peace and joy.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.Psalm 143:10 (NIV)

Joseph was the favored son of Jacob, which stirred the jealousy of his other brothers. Not only did their father present him with a special coat of many colors, but Joseph also had a dream that made his brothers hate him even more. The dream implied he would reign over them some future day.

“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” Genesis 37:5-9 (NKJV)

Joseph’s life story did not play out as he would have expected. No, the hateful plan his brother’s scheme landed Joseph in Egypt, far from family and Canaan. Into slavery, he was sold and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh was his master. But God did not forget Joseph.

And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.Genesis 39:3-5 (NKJV)

By this time Joseph had endured several detours in his valley of sorrow. The betrayal of his brothers and the passing from the favored son of a rich patriarch to a mere slave are two examples. Another detour sent Joseph to prison, simply because he maintained his morality by rebuffing the advances of Potiphar’s wife. (Gen.39:6-8) God was watching over Joseph the entire time.

Our heavenly Father cheers us on while we run our spiritual race. But the enemy is bent on harming us. The Devil does not want to see a sinful man transformed into the image of his victor, Jesus Christ. Nor does he want us to reach our eternal home. One of the fastest ways he can disrupt God’s plan for us is to tempt our morality.

Once he was in prison, God again showed Joseph favor and mercy.

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.  And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.Genesis 39:21-23 (NKJV)

 Who would have thought that time as a slave, and years in prison necessary training for Pharaoh’s right-hand man? But then, who of us can understand the mind of God? Joseph remained steadfast in his faith. He was in an awful state, but he did not sit on his laurels and give up. He did not moan in self-pity and grow bitter.

There were many other valley detours in the life of Joseph. They made him stronger and wiser. They equipped Joseph for the jobs God had designed for him.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Waiting On God

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God often asks us to wait. Waiting builds patience in our lives and transforms our character. It also deepens our dependency on God.

Moses is a wonderful example of someone whose character was transformed through the discipline of waiting. After his exile from Egypt, Moses spent 40 years in the desert of Midian. He went from being a prince of Egypt to a shepherd. God fed him lessons in humility and patience. Moses probably felt he was doing nothing worthwhile in life, but God was equipping and training him to be a leader, and that included desert survival skills. At the age of 80, Moses returned to Egypt and delivered Israel through the power and will of God. Then, for forty additional years, Moses endured a desert existence, leading a stiff-necked people God called His own.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

The story Joseph is another example of waiting on God and trusting in His provision. After his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph was taken to Egypt. Once there, Potiphar, who was in charge of the Pharaoh’s kitchen, bought him. He made Joseph his personal attendant and placed him in charge of his entire household. Unfortunately, his master’s wife tried to seduce him and when Joseph resisted her advances, she lied about the encounter thus prompting Potiphar to send him to prison.

“Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and show him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” Genesis 39:20-23 (NKJV)

For two years Joseph sat in prison. God was with him the whole time, preparing him for a job that would save many people.

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.” Colossians 1:10-11 (NKJV)

It wasn’t until the Pharaoh experienced bad dreams that Joseph was remembered and called to interpret their meaning. Eventually, Joseph rose from slave and prisoner to Pharaoh’s second-in-command. He was able to rescue many Egyptians from a famine by stockpiling grain during seven years of plenty. Because of the famine, Joseph was once again reunited with his family and in a position to save them, by providing much needed grain.

After Jacob died, his brothers feared for their lives regretting having sold him into slavery. But Joseph assured his brothers that God had always intended that he go to Egypt so He could him to save many people. Therefore, he wanted to take care of his brothers, their children, and his father’s household. Joseph believed God had a divine plan for his life. He had to get to Egypt some how, and his brothers took care of that step. Learning leadership skills were also necessary, and learning them in a prison was also a part of God’s plan.

The means by which God equips His children may seem strange, even brutal. But, we must trust that our loving Father knows the best way to discipline, refine, and equip us for the works He wants us to accomplished. Moses and Joseph waited a long time to see the fruit of their labor. We can learn from them. Patience is an act of faith and takes a good measure of self-control. Let the following scriptures encourage you while working through your personal sanctification process. Let the dross come to the surface! In time, you will look into the crucible of melted gold and the reflection you see will be the face of Christ.

Do not let the loud utterances of your own wills anticipate, nor drown, the still, small voice in which God speaks. Bridle impatience till He does. If you cannot hear His whisper, wait till you do. Take care of running before you are sent. Keep your wills in equipoise till God’s hand gives the impulse and direction.“ ~Alexander MacLaren

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I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6 (NKJV)

 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faith.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.Psalm 37:34 (NKJV)

 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

Stop Complaining!

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Complaining is an everyday occurrence, acceptable in all social norms. It is one way to open up a conversation with strangers. Everything is fair game when it comes to expressing dissatisfaction or annoyance. Maybe the weather doesn’t agree with us, so we gripe. A car in front just nabbed the parking space we were eyeing. How many times have we tapped our toe over the long checkout line at the grocery store? It could be our circumstances have changed, bringing with them discomfort or sorrow. But God does not approve of this negative habit, for several reasons. Can you guess? Consider the Israelites as they traveled along the route to the Red Sea.

“They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.” Numbers 21:4-6 (NIV)

The first thing you should notice is that “the people grew impatient on the way.” Patience is listed as a facet of the Fruit of the Spirit and is also a virtue. To wait without complaining is admirable but not actually virtuous. Patience becomes virtuous when discomfort is added to the equation. When the act of waiting without complaint includes personal discomfort, virtue has appeared.

Our God is patient and longsuffering. As imitators of Christ, we are to model His patience. Waiting on the Lord teaches us to persevere and maintain self-control.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?Romans 2:4 (NKJV)

Complaining also leads to rebellion, ingratitude, and a lack of faith. Referring back to Numbers 21:5, we see how the Israelites question God’s will, direction/path, and provision. They speak out against God and His servant Moses. There was ingratitude for the heavenly bread, a supernatural provision. It was actually detested by the Jews. Their loathing for manna is defined as a ‘sickening dread.’

God’s position, as Israel’s Creator and Deliverer, was disregarded. Free from Egyptian captivity, they voiced complaints full of disrespect. Instead of praising God for their deliverance, they focused on their new discomforts. Apathetic to their new freedom, indifferent to the miracles God performed on their behalf, heedless to the promise of a future, they instead concentrated on only the negative.

Earlier, in Numbers 11:1, complaining Israelites displeased the Lord and roused Him to anger. So many of us are slow to heed God’s warnings, and even slower to change habits that displease or anger Him.

“Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.” Numbers 11:1 (NKJV)

We are to  Do all things without complaining and disputing.” Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV) But, since grousing is sprinkled on just about every conversation, this habit will not be easy to break. Those who decide to take on and break this bad habit will stand out. They will receive attention for simply avoiding conversations that criticize others or complain about issues.

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” James 5:9 (NKJV)

When it comes to complaining, I am just as guilty as those reading this devotion. Some of my negative talk includes political leaders and government issues, along with finances and the weather. Opposing actions, decisions, or ideas belonging to family and friends are also in the mix.

God wants a thankful heart, but if we are full of criticism and discontent how can we demonstrate thankfulness? We are free to present our requests and needs to the heavenly Father, but our attitude should always be that of respect. Laying down a worry or petition is not the same as complaining.

Consider God’s view on complaining then decide if you need to alter your words the next time you experience discomfort or your patience is tested.

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)

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 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”                  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV)

 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

“We should not test Christ, as some of them did-and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did-and were killed by the destroying angel. There things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:9-11 (NIV)

The Peace of Christ

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Jesus did not enter this world to bring peace. Rather, He came wielding a very sharp sword. In fact, this weapon is so keen and precise that it pierces between soul and spirit. With supernatural power, it discerns our thoughts and the intent of our heart.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

 Confusion can arise when reading John 14:27, for Jesus speaks of giving us peace. If He did not come to bring peace on earth, why would Christ speak of leaving His peace? There is a clue within the scripture, “He does not give as the world gives.”

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27 (NKJV)

Jesus does offer peace to individuals, but He did not come to earth bringing political peace. His message was radical. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. But the message written in Exodus 21:23-25 directed Jews to act without showing grace. To understand the new message, Jews first had to believe Jesus was the Son of God. They also had to embrace the power in love, the greatest and most powerful gift of all. The blood of Jesus provided forgiveness of all sin and believers were to practice and model forgiveness.

But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)

Man often spurs political agendas. Greed, selfish ambition, and power are all motivators. Sin prevents peace in the realm of politics. It is too saturated with self.

But Christ came to us in humility, with a servant’s heart. He brought a peace beyond comprehension, yet obtainable through a sincere faith and a trust in His perfect will. He is the Prince of peace.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

When man looks to the Father, seeking the Wonderful Counselor for help, there shall be peace. When man reflects on the power of God, He who is Mighty, there shall be peace. When confused thoughts afflict and we lay our burdens at Christ’s feet, there shall be peace. For with a Savior who loves us we have hope, and in that hope we also find peace.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.1 Corinthians 14:23 (NKJV)

The blessing, “The peace of Christ be with you” is perfect for these days of trouble. Christ is our peace. So, when political leaders attempt to force their agendas on the world, we should rest knowing God is in control. The Lord knows about every atrocity and will transform them, some how, into good.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

It is not for us to understand how He acts, or His perfect will. But, it is our responsibility to wait, trust and believe in His character. God is faithful. He is love. He is all-powerful. He is gentle and merciful. Jesus already won the battle, which the devil is trying to overturn. The enemy should read the book of Revelation! The Lord reveals the ending and he ends up in a pit of damnation.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.Revelation 20:10 (NKJV)

 May you find encouragement in these scriptures.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7 (NKJV)

 

Your Mind Is A Garden

*Mind is a Garden

God will often speak to His children through nature. A garden is full of lessons and analogies if only we have eyes to see and a heart that listens. In order to enjoy a beautiful and healthy garden, a lot of work must take place. However, the fruit and pleasure to be gained is well worth the trouble.

In the spring, soil is turned over and prepared for plants and seeds. Fertilizer is applied to the flowers/plants for vigorous growth. Watering is necessary along with the chore of weeding.

The trick to weeding is staying on top of their assault. A little weeding every day will prevent an invasion that overwhelms and chokes out desired plants. However, if weeds are ignored, they will take over a garden. Most are very resilient and determined to grow and multiply. Getting rid of them will require much time and effort.

Our spiritual growth is a lot like a garden. Consider sin as the invading weeds. Sin will mangle and impair our development in Christ Jesus. Sins, like weeds, are quick to grow and multiply, which is why daily reflection and removal should be practiced.

When a sinful thought enters our mind, we can act on it or ignore it. The Devil keeps busy by planting appealing but unhealthy thoughts in our head. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to protect us. With discernment, we can recognize and turn from every evil.

However, we have been given a free will. Every day we make choices, follow God or ignore His laws. With God’s grace, we are able to take every thought captive and turn from sin.

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”    2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:13 (NKJV)

Self-control is a characteristic belonging to the fruit of the Spirit. We cultivate the fruit by reading the Word and filling our minds with God’s truth. Our decisions on entertainment choices and fellowship with others are also key.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”   Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

Depending on how bound we are to a particular sin will usually determine the length and intensity of our spiritual battle. Strongholds can be broken! There is no temptation set before us where God has not provided an escape.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Obedience and submission to God matures our spiritual garden of faith. Our old man is corrupt and we are to walk as new beings, in the righteousness and holiness of God. This is not always easy, but there will be joy in every decision made to lay down self and take on God’s character and will.

That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” Titus 2:11-12 (NKJV)

If fear and anxiety are an issue, robbing peace of mind, again take every thought captive. Recall the faithfulness of God in the past and trust He will continue to be faithful today and tomorrow. Fear and anxiety only produce weeds. They will not bear fruit of any worth.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Psalm 37:8 (NKJV)

May the peace of Christ, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and mind. There is an escape for all sin because the blood of Jesus Christ covers us. Resist the devil and he must flee. This is a promise. Be bold and stouthearted and remember to put on your spiritual armor. May the helmet of salvation inspire you to put on the mind of Christ.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

What Should I Do?

 

God's WillWhat Should I do?

To know God’s will, in any given circumstance, requires patience. Waiting for Him to speak and direct our path entails self-control and faith. But with patience we are made complete to the point of not lacking anything. What a promise! To be made perfect through trials and testings which serve to cultivate our patience, a facet of the fruit of the Spirit.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

But what if you need to know God’s will immediately? First, do you REALLY need an answer in the next minute, or is that your will? If you don’t require an instant message, pray and wait to hear from the Lord. If you DO need to act quickly, the grace of God will direct you and the discernment of the Holy Spirit will guide. Things will suddenly line up, come to you miraculously, doors will close (or open), or God will send somebody to help.

How do we know if something is God’s will? First, if something does not line up with the Word of God… it is NOT God’s will. Our heavenly Father will never encourage us to compromise our faith or sin. If it is a decision between one job and another, ask God to bless your decision and then close a door. If both doors are closed, something better lies ahead. If both doors remain open, pick one and trust God will bless you for seeking His face in the first place.

Can a person wait too long to hear from God? No, but there are some who hear His answer and do not like His reply, thus they wait and wait and wait some more. If we think a willful pause will change God’s mind, after we have received an answer, careful consideration of self-motives should occur.

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” John 7:17 (NKJV)

“Do I want my will more than God’s will? Have I yielded my heart and do I trust God with my desires? Have I asked God to make His will my will and passion?”

Since God created each one of us with a unique purpose, He has also equipped us to accomplish that good work. Faith in this promise will carry us through times of uncertainty.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

If an opportunity has seemingly slipped by, it is possible God never had it in His master plan. And if the opportunity was ordained, God will guide us off our rabbit trail and direct us back to the proper destination. He is in control. He is sovereign and has unrestricted power. Even before our birth, He knew we would get off course, so He designed specific lessons for our rabbit trail. God is never surprised or caught off guard by our actions. He knows our weaknesses and works to build them into future strengths.

We may want specifics when it comes to following His will, but He allows us to make choices. If we are yielded to him, He has ways of preventing wrong choices. So, never be fearful about making a decision if you have laid it at His feet.

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.  After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” Acts 16:6-7 (NKJV)

God knows our heart and our desire to please Him.  He does not want His children walking around paralyzed with fear, anxious over making a “wrong” decision. James 4:6 assures us that God offers grace to the humble. If you are wrestling with a big decision, take comfort this promise and trust God will guide your steps.

“But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says:                                                                        ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 (NKJV)

*Meditate on the following verses and pray over any decisions you need to make.

’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:5-6 (NKJV)

Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27 (NKJV)

Don’t Be Anxious!

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“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 5:25-34 (NKJV)

Blessed Savior,

I lift up those who are filled with anxiety. With your love, calm their anxious heart. Bring them to an understanding of Your Sovereignty. You are more than able to guide them through their trouble, so help them to relinquish control and trust You to handle their trouble. Let the knowledge of Your power and love lift their spirit and give them hope. May they move through their struggle in peace, knowing nothing is impossible with God.

Thank you for giving us exactly what we need, including trials and times of stretching. Amen.

Relying On God

Rely on God Begins w:Each Day

“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” ~ C.S. Lewis

A mountain climber must rely on his equipment to sustain him if climbing alone. A child riding to school in a car must rely on the driver for his safety. Sometimes we put our trust in objects and other times we put our trust in man. But the reality is, God alone sustains us! We are to rely on HIM for all of our needs. To rely is to depend on with full trust or confidence.

Relying on God requires faith, so there needs to be a certainty of His love hidden in our hearts. With this assurance, we are then able to trust His character and believe our every need will be met. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as a “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

A month after leaving Egypt, the children of God started to worry about running out of food. Many of the animals taken in the great exodus had already been slaughtered to feed the masses. The Lord was aware of their anxiety and wanted the Israelites to depend on Him for their survival. Therefore, He spoke to Moses and said,

“Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” Exodus 16:4 (NKJV)

In a miraculous way, God provided food for His children. Manna, the bread God rained down from heaven, tasted like wafers made with honey. Their supernatural provision was sweet to the taste AND met their need for nourishment.

Had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full.” Psalm 78:24 (NKJV)

“Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NKJV)

Jesus is the “Bread of Life.” He is our spiritual food. The Bible is the living Word of God and so we are to feed upon it, daily. Normally, one does not go a day or even a week without food. We need to eat in order to stay healthy and strong. Food gives our body energy and enables us to move throughout the day.

God likes to speak to us through analogies, so the feeding of our body with food is aligned to feeding our spirit with the Word of God. Our spirit needs the living Word to energize and move us through each day. Just as our physical body becomes weak and unhealthy without nourishment, our spirit becomes weak and unhealthy when we neglect the scriptures. But when we feed upon the Word, His instruction will become our encouragement. His love within us will become more obvious to others. Our actions will be more like that of Christ.

It is worth noting that the Israelites had to collect their food daily (except on the Sabbath). It took some measure of effort on their part to gather the manna, for it was as fine as frost. Our heavenly Father will always provide for our needs, but He expects an effort on our part.

If the Israelites did not collect the manna in the morning, it melted in the heat of the day. They had to make an effort to rise in the morning and gather in God’s provision before it spoiled. Furthermore, they could not gather extra (except for the Sabbath) and keep it overnight because it would go bad and breed worms. In order to sustain themselves, they had to collect manna daily. We are to follow their example and feed our spirit with the bread of life, daily.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 (NKJV)

For forty years, the Israelites wandered through the wilderness. Every day they ate the manna God provided. This is a reminder to rely on God for strength and provision during personal times of adversity and testing. Encouragement is provided throughout the Bible. We can find great comfort by reading about the many ways God helped His people in the past. He will help us today as well.

Meditate on the following scriptures and pray about seeking God daily.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:6 (NKJV)

Look to the Lord and His strength; Seek His face always.” Psalm 105:4 (NKJV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

God Is In The Details

 

*7

God wants a relationship with His adopted children, but why? He doesn’t need us.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,                                              The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,                                                        What is man that You are mindful of him,                                                                             And the son of man that You visit him”  Psalm 8:3-4 (NKJV)

The answer is LOVE. Even though God did not need man He chose to create us anyway. And because of His abundant love and creativity, He uniquely designed every one of us. Our physical attributes were given much attention, including distinct fingerprints and an individual genetic makeup. Blue eyes, brown eyes, big nose or small, we were created in the exact image God desired, and we are all beautiful in His sight. Dare we criticize the Potter of imagined flaws when He sees them as unique and perfect in detail?

We were created with a purpose, so while God knit us together in our mother’s womb, He created our personality and gave us spiritual gifts. These were provided so that we could accomplish tasks that would fulfill His perfect will for us and glorify His name.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”      Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

But God is not only concerned with OUR physical features. EVERYTHING in this universe shouts out, “GOD IS IN THE DETAILS!” All of creation has been given His attention. Consider the stars and heavenly bodies. The orbits these celestial bodies travel are all perfectly aligned! Trees, flowers, and crops have specific seasons of growth, fruit and harvest. All the creativity that went into designing the animals of earth hint of God’s humor and sense of fun (Consider the elephant and the armadillo). God’s appreciation for beauty is evident when we observe the many colorful birds and flowers of this world.

“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”  Psalm 147:4-5 (NKJV)

If God is involved in the feather design of an exotic bird and the minute patterns displayed on orchids, can we question whether God is involved in the details of our life? 

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV)

God sees all and knows all things. From heaven, He looks down upon mankind and watches all who live on earth. He is not surprised by the right turn we make, even though it should have been a left. He knows how to direct us back to the path leading to glory.

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; From His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth— He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”  Psalm 33:13-15 (NKJV)

Consider King David. He was a man after God’s own heart, but he was also flawed. David fell into sin with Bathsheba. God was aware of the details that led up to the death of Bathsheba’s husband, so He sent Nathaniel to King David. Through this prophet, God exposed David’s sin and revealed the consequences he would have to endure.

“So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.’ Then Nathan departed to his house.”  2 Samuel 12:13-15 (NKJV)

When we suffer a loss or walk through adversity, God is with us. He sees each detail of our trial and provides the necessary help we need to carry on. When we are weak, HE is our strength. When we need wisdom, all we have to do is ask without doubting, and it will be provided. How could God provide the necessary wisdom for our unique situation if He was not aware of the details surrounding our circumstances?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:5-6 (NKJV)

When we have a need, the Lord knows of it before we do! His provisions are always sufficient, but they are not always abundant or given in the manner we imagined. He knows the details that need to fall into place down the road, and we only see the present and a few steps ahead. Things might appear to be hopeless, but God works things out so that He gets the credit and is glorified. 

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”  Matthew 6:8 (NKJV)

Corrie ten Boom wrote a poem about a tapestry God weaves of our life. There are dark and golden threads and the pattern is detailed and beautiful. But her words remind us that the underside of the weaving is all we witness, which means it will appear chaotic and unattractive. The beauty of the canvas God designed will become apparent only after we pass from this world. Only then will we understand why the dark threads were added and see the beauty they added to our tapestry. God is an artist and makes everything beautiful in His time. He is involved in every detail. He is aware of what we face each day.

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving                                                                                                                           Between my God and me.                                                                                                                                   I cannot choose the colors                                                                                                                             He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;                                                                                                                     And I in foolish pride                                                                                                                                Forget He sees the upper                                                                                                                                  And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent                                                                                                                               And the shuttles cease to fly                                                                                                                         Will God unroll the canvas                                                                                                                               And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful                                                                                                                       In the weaver’s skillful hand                                                                                                                            As the threads of gold and silver                                                                                                                   In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;                                                                                                                 Nothing this truth can dim.                                                                                                                            He gives the very best to those                                                                                                                  Who leave the choice to Him.”

― Corrie ten Boom

“Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.”  Psalm 139:4 (NIV)

“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.

And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  Psalm 139:15-16 (NKJV)

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Luke 12:7 (NIV)

Pray Away Confusion

*6

This devotion is found in my book FACING STORMS: DEVOTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION. Available on Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Storms-Devotions-Thought-Meditation/dp/1502487551/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430870978&sr=8-2&keywords=cheryl+zelenka

“Storms can bring fear, cloud judgment, and create confusion. Yet God promises that as you seek Him through prayer, He will give you wisdom to know how to proceed. The only way you will survive the storm will be on your knees.”  ~Paul Chappell

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints,”   1 Co 14:33 (NKJV)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”   2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Confusion has the ability to rob us of the peace given by God. It can ransack our sleep and distract our thoughts. It is the cause of much mental stress and many health issues. Without the guidance of God, we will not escape its fog or snare. Indeed, prayer and quiet meditation are required to sort out the troubles that greet us every day.

Since God is NOT a God of confusion, He is the God of peace, we can conclude that our head scratching is the result of personal sin, bad choices, or a spiritual battle has ensued. Confusion is an instrument of deceit often employed by the enemy.

He is a talented deceiver who continuously invents ways to confound the children of God. Relentless and ever watching, he waits for moments of weakness to attack. He will invent new ways to baffle and bewilder even the most spiritually mature. Nobody is beyond his reach.

Thankfully, everyone belonging to Yahweh is engraved on the Father’s palm. We are under His eternal protection. We are always before Him and continually on His mind. He will never abandon us to this foe.

One of the most deceitful and heinous ways the Devil achieves our befuddlement is by misusing God’s own Word. The enemy knows the scriptures well; so don’t be surprised when you become perplexed by his subtle lies for they will be mixed with gospel truth. He may be cunning and clever but we have the Holy Spirit within us and He will always provide the necessary discernment needed to cast him off. If we resist the Devil he must leave. Complacency has never won a war.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NKJV)

Prayer brings us into the throne room of God. We can always lay our petitions at His feet with the assurance of knowing our prayers have been answered, in His way and in His time. However, there are times when we will find ourselves entangled in spiritual warfare. Who knows the reason? There is a multitude of possible answers but for whatever reason, the Lord will ask you to persevere and fight. With the armor of Christ, you will not only fend off fiery darts, but with the Living Word you will attack this fallen angel.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”       Ephesians 6:12-17 (NKJV)

To carry a sharp sword, one that is effective in bringing down strongholds, a soldier of Christ should be in the Word daily. It is the bread of Life and we shouldn’t neglect our spiritual diets. An undernourished body is weak, so too is an undernourished spirit.

It takes diligence and a true conviction on our part to seek out God’s truth. We are responsible for our own spiritual walk and should heed the example given to us by the Berean Jews. They heard what Paul preached, but they did not take it for truth until they had examined the Scriptures themselves. They worked to verify the truth. They were involved and active in their spiritual education.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 (NIV)

We too must study Scripture when trials or events cause us confusion. We should also search the Bible if a Christian leader says something that causes a check in our spirit. The Holy Spirit is a guardian of truth, and unsound doctrine will set off our internal alarm. Don’t rely solely on others to feed you. Go directly to Scripture and study it yourselves. The Holy Spirit will be your guide.

“ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”           2 Timothy 3:16-17

We live in challenging times and it will only get more difficult as the return of our Lord draws near. The Bible warns us that false prophets existed in Paul’s time, and they do so even now. These men and women come to tickle our ears and tell us what we want to hear.” 1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)

“They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”            1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

We cannot pick and choose parts of the Bible to believe and obey, and then create our own truth. God is love, but love also involves truth, order, and discipline.

The Devil wants to beat us down and convince us that God has left us in our spiritual desert forever. This is a lie! The Father brings his children out of their wilderness in His time. Sorrows are for but a season.

Confusion will discourage the best of us but the best way to attack it is with Scripture and prayer. Ask God for direction and wisdom if you are struggling with decisions or suffering from doubt. Request the Holy Spirit to direct you to truth and then be prepared to face the facts and realities He reveals. The truth and revelations may cause you to make choices or personal life changes.

2 Timothy 2:7 (NIV) commands, “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

If you are facing trials, struggles, or you simply have questions and concerns, diligently seek the truth. Like a buried treasure, you will find the answers and a cherished prize. Be a Berean today! Don’t let confusion rob you of the peace of Christ.

STUDY THESE WORDS DURING YOUR QUIET TIME:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV)

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)

“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” 1 John 4:5 (NIV)

“What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes bt I do not hear Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers“Storms can bring fear, cloud judgment, and create confusion. Yet God promises that as you seek Him through prayer, He will give you wisdom to know how to proceed. The only way you will survive the storm will be on your knees.”  ~Paul Chappell

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints,”         1 Co 14:33 (NKJV)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”                 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Confusion has the ability to rob us of the peace given by God. It can ransack our sleep and distract our thoughts. It is the cause of much mental stress and many health issues. Without the guidance of God, we will not escape its fog or snare. Indeed, prayer and quiet meditation are required to sort out the troubles that greet us every day.

Since God is NOT a God of confusion, He is the God of peace, we can conclude that our head scratching is the result of personal sin, bad choices, or a spiritual battle has ensued. Confusion is an instrument of deceit often employed by the enemy.

He is a talented deceiver who continuously invents ways to confound the children of God. Relentless and ever watching, he waits for moments of weakness to attack. He will invent new ways to baffle and bewilder even the most spiritually mature. Nobody is beyond his reach.

Thankfully, everyone belonging to Yahweh is engraved on the Father’s palm. We are under His eternal protection. We are always before Him and continually on His mind. He will never abandon us to this foe.

One of the most deceitful and heinous ways the Devil achieves our befuddlement is by misusing God’s own Word. The enemy knows the scriptures well; so don’t be surprised when you become perplexed by his subtle lies for they will be mixed with gospel truth. He may be cunning and clever but we have the Holy Spirit within us and He will always provide the necessary discernment needed to cast him off. If we resist the Devil he must leave. Complacency has never won a war.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NKJV)

Prayer brings us into the throne room of God. We can always lay our petitions at His feet with the assurance of knowing our prayers have been answered, in His way and in His time. However, there are times when we will find ourselves entangled in spiritual warfare. Who knows the reason? There is a multitude of possible answers but for whatever reason, the Lord will ask you to persevere and fight. With the armor of Christ, you will not only fend off fiery darts, but with the Living Word you will attack this fallen angel.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”                     Ephesians 6:12-17 (NKJV)

To carry a sharp sword, one that is effective in bringing down strongholds, a soldier of Christ should be in the Word daily. It is the bread of Life and we shouldn’t neglect our spiritual diets. An undernourished body is weak, so too is an undernourished spirit.

It takes diligence and a true conviction on our part to seek out God’s truth. We are responsible for our own spiritual walk and should heed the example given to us by the Berean Jews. They heard what Paul preached, but they did not take it for truth until they had examined the Scriptures themselves. They worked to verify the truth. They were involved and active in their spiritual education.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 (NIV)

We too must study Scripture when trials or events cause us confusion. We should also search the Bible if a Christian leader says something that causes a check in our spirit. The Holy Spirit is a guardian of truth, and unsound doctrine will set off our internal alarm. Don’t rely solely on others to feed you. Go directly to Scripture and study it yourselves. The Holy Spirit will be your guide.

“ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”           2 Timothy 3:16-17

We live in challenging times and it will only get more difficult as the return of our Lord draws near. The Bible warns us that false prophets existed in Paul’s time, and they do so even now. These men and women come to tickle our ears and tell us what we want to hear.” 1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)

“They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”            1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

We cannot pick and choose parts of the Bible to believe and obey, and then create our own truth. God is love, but love also involves truth, order, and discipline.

The Devil wants to beat us down and convince us that God has left us in our spiritual desert forever. This is a lie! The Father brings his children out of their wilderness in His time. Sorrows are for but a season.

Confusion will discourage the best of us but the best way to attack it is with Scripture and prayer. Ask God for direction and wisdom if you are struggling with decisions or suffering from doubt. Request the Holy Spirit to direct you to truth and then be prepared to face the facts and realities He reveals. The truth and revelations may cause you to make choices or personal life changes.

2 Timothy 2:7 (NIV) commands, “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

If you are facing trials, struggles, or you simply have questions and concerns, diligently seek the truth. Like a buried treasure, you will find the answers and a cherished prize. Be a Berean today! Don’t let confusion rob you of the peace of Christ.

STUDY THESE WORDS DURING YOUR QUIET TIME:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV)

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)

“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” 1 John 4:5 (NIV)

“What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes bt I do not hear Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers

 

http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Storms-Devotions-Thought-Meditation/dp/1502487551/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430870978&sr=8-2&keywords=cheryl+zelenka

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